“We’ve been calling them ogres mostly at Wilcox’s insistence. Initially the radio chatter and phone calls refer to them as giants. And I think that’s how you’ve probably been hearing about them up till now. But…well, Wilcox…you’ll meet him later,” the left-hand staffer said to Dr. Susan Martin, M.E.
“These gentlemen are surprisingly fluent in English, but sometimes they sound like they have food in their mouth. They don’t. We haven’t been feeding them and they haven’t asked,” the staffer to her right added.
“Don’t let their apparent fluency fool you. These aren’t, in fact, gentlemen. They butchered several of our men and two of their own before we subdued them. I admit, they’ve been polite since the skirmish—that’s partly why we’re treating them more like guests than prisoners. Partly. But I’d rather not have any more people sympathetic to their cause than there already are,” said the left-hand staffer.
“Are they restrained?” Dr. Martin asked.
“They’re behind a stunner,” the right-hand staffer interjected like a puppy. Dr. Martin ignores him and looks quizzically to the left-hand staffer.
“A stun wall? A force field?”
“We have those?”
“We have those.” The left-hand staffer emphasizes the first word. “You won’t see it; you’ll hear it—a little. What you’ll see is the threshold. Don’t step over that and you’re fine.”
Charnwyn’s coat tails dangled well below the branch she squatted on. I loved that jacket. It was maroon and finely textured—especially the embroidered cuffs. She wore morning and night. She wore it each day. It hung well on her and in many ways defined her to those she’d just met but I wished I’d found it in that shop in Telash not her. I wished I wore it instead.
Next to her, Franwyn sat cross legged on the tentacle-like branch like imbalance held no definition. These heights never posed a problem for her the way they did me. Her sword lay in her lap…I think she may have even been asleep. With her peacefully slack face and doe-eyed expression knowing if she slept or merely drifted off during a conversation with lots of words or saw an especially colorful bird was hard to determine.
“…Conni? Conwyn?” I realized Charnni called my name about the time her voice went from a hushed whisper to a harsh one. Though our height gave us nearly all the safety we needed keeping quiet still made sense.
:Sorry,: I signed back.
“I think we’re fine up her. We can talk—a little. What are you sulking about this time?”
I added some sway to the line of the hunting bell to restart the pendulum of its movement. It swung a few more times. I started to answer but Charnni shifted her position on the vine-branch to look out of our little circle of light. I could see her unbanded breasts through the gaping sleeve of that jacket.
“I wish I could get away with that.”
“Again? Really? Conni, going unbanded, on a hunt, in the forest, alone with my sisters is about the only advantage these little things give me. Shut up already.”
“Hush ladies. Something climbs up,” Franny said.